Nothing's stopping you from selling your home without hiring a real estate broker. Can you believe I just wrote that? Some of my fellow Realtors probably can't. But it's true. You can put a For Sale By Owner sign in your yard, buy ads, and negotiate the sale of your own home. That's a pretty attractive idea to some homeowners. Before you start heading down that road, though, you should consider a few things.
What do you know?
If you're selling your home, you've probably been through at least one real estate transaction. Perhaps you've even bought and sold a handful of homes over the years. Compare your experience and knowledge to that of someone who spends every day helping people buy and sell properties. A real estate transaction is a complicated process with many components: title insurance, surveys, inspections, earnest money, option fees, escrow, financing, contingencies, disclosures, required addenda for specific types of properties-the list stretches on. Make a misstep somewhere along the way and you might jeopardize the transaction, lose money, or find yourself named in a lawsuit.
I'm not saying you can't successfully negotiate the process on your own. However, the less you are involved in an activity, the less likely you are to excel at it.
Do you have the time?
Don't kid yourself; selling your home on your own will require much more of your personal time than if you hire an agent. You will spend some time educating yourself on the process, more time analyzing the current housing market to determine a price for your home, more time researching the various means of marketing your home and implementing the marketing strategies you choose, and still more time showing the property to prospective buyers.
Depending on how long it takes to sell your home, showing your house to prospective buyers can really eat into your personal time. You should postpone any trips out of town while your home is on the market. Make sure you can be around most weekends. And if someone wants to see the house during a weekday, be prepared to take off work to show the buyers your property.
Also, before you show any buyer your home, I'd suggest you make sure that person is qualified and motivated to purchase it. Nothing is more frustrating than spending time with prospective buyers, negotiating a sale, and getting halfway to closing only to find out the buyer can't qualify for a loan.
Speaking of price
The biggest incentive to most people who decide to sell their homes on their own is saving the agent's fee or commission. But that can backfire if you don't set the right price for your home. Make a mistake here and you might leave a substantial amount of money on the table. Overpricing your home can be equally detrimental. Homes initially priced too high typically sit on the market, giving the impression that something must be wrong with the property. Often, a home priced too high eventually sells for less than if it had been priced right at the beginning.
What has changed?
If you haven't bought or sold a home in the last few years, you will want to find out what has changed. I'm not only speaking of market conditions, which can shift much more quickly than that. The marketing tactics that worked well the last time you were involved in a real estate transaction may not be the best bet this go-around. There also have been several changes to real estate forms and contracts. The Texas Legislature has mandated some changes as well. It takes keen attention to keep up with the changes in this industry.
Yes, you can sell your home on your own. Some homeowners do so and are pleased with the process and results. Some others sell on their own, find it a huge headache, and vow never to do so again. Many others attempt to sell on their own and end up hiring an agent to get the job done. If you do choose to go it alone, make this decision with your eyes open to what it will really take and the stakes involved. For most people, hiring a Realtor is well worth it to make sure a professional is on your side every step of the way.
For all of your Pearland TX real estate needs, please visit my web site at http://www.danfrankrealty.com/
This column was published in the Feb 24, 2008 edition of the Galveston County Daily News.